God knows you’ve tried.
You’ve coaxed, you’ve wheedled, you’ve threatened and yes, you’ve yelled.
All for what? The clutter is still everywhere. Nothing has changed.
You’re worried about her safety and you’re terrified that you’re going to have to clear out her stuff when she’s gone.
Bringing in the professionals seems like the logical next step
But hiring an organizer is an expensive and frustrating waste of time for everyone involved if everyone doesn’t agree there’s a problem.
As long as you’re complaining, and hinting and exploding, your mom thinks you’re the problem. If you would just leave her alone, things would be fine
The more you insist, the more she’s duty bound to resist
It’s like telling your two-year-old it’s time to stop playing in the sandbox. Or your five-year-old they have to go to bed. Or your teenager they need to stop hanging out with the friends you don’t think are good for them.
They fight for the exact opposite, and everyone gets locked into a war that doesn’t end, even if you win a battle here and there.
Your mom’s house suits her just fine. Otherwise, she’d be the one calling me.
If you force her to hire an organizer, be prepared for resistance
She’ll cancel appointments and reschedule, always for water-tight reasons that wouldn’t be a factor if she wanted the organizer there.
A problem is only a problem when it’s bothering you, and if the only reason the clutter’s bothering your relative is because it’s making you nag them, working with a professional organizer will take a predictable course.
You’ll get frustrated because you’re just trying to help.
The organizer will get frustrated because they can’t fill a spot after a last minute cancellation.
Your mom will get frustrated because no one is picking up on her hints that she’s not up for this.
So please, if you’re calling an organizer because someone else’s clutter is driving you crazy, hang up the phone right now.
Don’t even dial.
Take a step back and think about how much money you’re going to spend for nothing and how much further South the already frayed relationship with your mom is going to go.
Put the money you would have spent on organizing to better use
Therapy, trips to the mountains, lovely things that you enjoy doing.
Stop cleaning up after her. Set clear boundaries about what clutter she can bring into your space and enforce those boundaries.
Don’t bail her out when the natural consequences of her clutter come up. Can’t find her covid-19 immunization card? Oh dear. Guess she can’t go to that concert after all.
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You can’t force someone else to get organized
Work around this problem as much as you’re willing to until resentment boils over, and then instead of calling an organizer, call a therapist. You and mom have some negotiating to do.
Keep the relationship and let the wonderful day come when mom announces she’s sick and tired of the mess. It may never come, but it’ll come sooner if you don’t nag.
Let her do the research and call the organizers herself. Don’t offer to help or do the research for her because it’ll only set things back another six to eighteen months. Anyone you preselect comes loaded with the baggage that you’re suggesting them.
Your mom knows how Google works
Mom may seem technologically challenged but she knows how Google works. Show her again if you want to, but if she can answer a cell phone, she can find Google too.
Let her search until she finds someone who resonates.
Let her set up the interview and let her decide who she wants to work with.
I know, you deserve input too. But we want this to work, right? When someone feels in control of a situation, it frees them to look at what might not be working so well and take action.
When you let go of the rope, your mom can stop pulling it away from you.
by Lucy Kelly